He looked in the mirror and saw that the lines on his face which had revealed themselves reluctantly two years ago were no longer afraid to stake their claim on his being. He tried to recall what had occurred in that period between the first trace of a line and the birth of a wrinkle.
He had loved fiercely even if, at times, foolishly and misguidedly. He had made love seldomly but had done so lovingly and passionately. What he remembered was not the act but the color it brought to his world. He recalled the sweet sleepy chatter that they shared after they came. Meaningless. Languorous. Cozy. He remembered how hungry they always felt afterward. The late night drive-through in their pajamas. Burgers and fries ravenously eaten in parking lots.
He saw that his beard and hair now contained far more than a smattering of grey. He both enjoyed and found painful the contrast between these signalers of death and the memories of peak life experiences.
Sometimes we console ourselves with partial-truths. And so it was that he considered for a moment the possibility that these memories were made all the more special within the desert of his life. He had time to sit with them, to study every thread of the rich tapestry. To remember—to feast upon—the details many take for granted. He wondered, with no small amount of self-pity, if he would get the opportunity to add to the tapestry.
Then without pity he realized that his was a discerning life. He needed to love. To fully want. To believe in the goodness of the other. Somewhere between the lines and the wrinkles there had been opportunities for touch and sex and romance. Opportunities he declined because he knew that he did not want them to be woven into the tapestry. When something didn’t feel right he walked away. He chose solitude. And the one he had let back in—even if only for a week—he knew it was temporary but true; that it was right; that it transcended conventional morality. He felt no regret. It added color and brought richness into his life. And that…that was the standard.
He looked at himself again in the mirror. At the wrinkles. At the grey. He was at peace.